Turning Lemons into Lemonade on the Hard Days of Recovery
This season has been a rough one. When I arrived home 7 weeks ago, I was at the lowest adult weight I’ve ever been and I told my parents I didn’t think I would ever have the strength to return to residency. I can easily say this was the “rock bottom” period of my eating disorder. This is a profound and rather shocking contrast to two days ago. I had a bright day filled with a beautiful walk with Hope outside, volunteering at the local food pantry, and chocolate chip cookies. I also had my weekly therapy appointment, and my therapist commented that I looked great and even suggested I start sharing my story more with others because I’m doing the right things for my recovery and I’ve “got it going on”. I was grateful for the progress I have made and hopeful for the life to come. I figured the worst of the recovery process was behind me and that things would only continue to improve. And then yesterday was what my sweet mother would call a “low ebb” day. My spirits were down, the weather was cloudy, Hope almost got attacked by a neighbor dog, and I just had little motivation or energy, which seemed so cruel after being so depleted for so long and then finally working toward getting it back.
I processed my low affect with my mom and together we came to some conclusions and progress steps going forward.
- Everyone has “less than stellar” days, it’s inevitable: I can’t expect to never feel low just because I’ve made so much progress in my recovery. Everyone has “bad days”, and in fact, bad days make the good ones that much brighter. Going forward, it’s best to acknowledge that bad days will happen, and have plans in place to make them as positive as possible.
- Now that I have more energy, I need to “get out”: one of the reasons I felt so low was because I had pent up energy and spent a lot of time in the house. The previous two days, I had gotten out to volunteer, but yesterday, I did not have any big “time fillers”. A goal going forward is to get out of the house to either a coffee shop or the library to read or to do work. This is such a nice change from the girl who did not think she would ever want to go back to work again!
- Routines are helpful in “riding the wave”: I’ve noticed Hope is happiest when she is on a schedule. We tend to get up, go for walks, go outside, and eat at the same time each day. Maintaining my routine, even when I feel “crummy” helps me get through those low moments, and ensures I’m still getting adequate rest and nutrition.
- Even though I felt low, I did not fall back in to old restrictive habits:Previously, I used a bad mood as an excuse to “numb out”—spending countless amount of time working out or going to fitness classes and avoiding food. I’m happy to say that I did not do this yesterday: I followed my meal plan and engaged in healthier behaviors such as reading, drawing, and watching The Crown with my parents.
I’m grateful that I’m at a point where there are more bright days than low days in my recovery. All the same, low days, or “lemon days” will occur throughout life. I hope to remember these lessons that I processed with my mom whenever the lemon days come.